Australian judge orders Chinese tycoon to detail wealth

A Chinese billionaire who lost his Australian residency on security grounds was ordered by an Australian judge yesterday to provide details of his wealth in a case over an alleged 141 million Australian dollar ($96 million) tax debt.
Huang Xiangmo’s lawyer, Gerald Ng, argued in the Federal Court that the order to declare Huang’s overseas assets within 21 days may expose him to “irreversible prejudice” if the information is used by the Australian Taxation Office in a new investigation or passed on to foreign tax authorities.
Justice Jayne Jagot rejected the argument, ruling that the tax office could only use the information for the current case. The tax office has said it will not use the information to start a new investigation.
Huang was a Sydney-based property developer before Australia canceled his permanent residency visa on the advice of a spy agency a day after he left the country in December.
The court froze his Sydney assets last month after the tax office accused him of understating his income from 2013 to 2015.
Huang, who also uses the name Changran Huang, was known as a major donor to Australia’s main political parties before foreign political donations were banned.
Australia angered China by passing a range of laws last year banning covert foreign interference in Australian politics.
A state corruption inquiry is investigating allegations that Huang was behind an illegal AU$100,000 cash donation to the Sydney headquarters of the New South Wales state branch of the Labor Party.
Huang blamed the “sudden attack” on him in the corruption inquiry and media reporting for the tax office’s claim of a tax debt.
“The ATO is believed to be a professional government agency with some integrity but it really pains and saddens me that it has now surrendered itself to the pressure of some unknown dark forces, almost allowing itself to become a tool for political persecution against me,” Huang said in a statement on Wednesday.
Huang made headlines in 2017 when media revealed that his company had paid Labor Sen. Sam Dastyari’s personal legal bills. Huang then appeared alongside the then-opposition lawmaker at a news conference for Chinese media where Dastyari supported Beijing’s stance on the South China Sea, contradicting Australia’s bipartisan policy. Dastyari quit politics soon afterward. AP

Categories Asia-Pacific